Ryan McMahon’s plight had become as much a legend as anything can be in the first four weeks of a season: All those home runs, yet no wins. And yeah, yeah, he ended the dry spell Tuesday night.
McMahon’s 10th-inning, two-run homer, followed by C.J. Cron’s solo shot, tied him for the MLB lead this season with eight. And it was his first in a team victory, 7-5 over the Giants at Oracle Park. And it ended a Rockies-record season-opening road losing streak at seven games.
But McMahon’s biggest smile was for the end of another dry spell -- one that was way longer.
The Rockies have this goofy ritual. There is this huge chain -- it’s only a slight exaggeration to say it could tug a vehicle out of the snow. Hanging from it is a medallion of the club’s “CR” logo. Bearded sage to outsiders (and fun-loving big brother to his teammates) Charlie Blackmon determines a player of the game and hands it to him. The guy wears it, even though he just may be at risk for the 10-day injured list with a neck strain.
The presentations started last season, before the Rockies knew victories during a shortened season would be few. But no matter how often, they enjoy the living heck out of the celebration.
The chain belonged to McMahon, although he forgot to model it on Zoom. A question about finally homering in a win jogged the memory.
“Ah, I forgot my chain ... I just realized,” McMahon said, with a bright smile that his inquisitors may not have been able to see had he been brandishing the bling. “I got the player of the game, first time -- ever. So I'm very, very happy about that.
“This is an exciting day for me.”
McMahon’s homer off Gregory Santos tied him with the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins for tops in the Majors. Cron’s opposite-field shot to right made for a three-run lead, which Carlos Estévez protected despite yielding a run in the bottom of the frame.
McMahon has homered in six games. On April 6, he went deep three times but the Rockies lost to the D-backs, 10-8, in 13 innings at Coors Field. Tuesday was also the second time this season that McMahon has homered in a significant situation at Oracle Park. McMahon went deep off Logan Webb for two runs in the fifth inning on April 10, only to see Brandon Crawford homer later and give the Giants a 4-3 victory.
At least McMahon won’t match the 1962 Tigers’ Steve Boros, who homered in 12 games before doing so in a victory. Since no one wants to chase that type of history, it didn’t come up amid the music and goofiness of the Rockies’ clubhouse.
“Now, I don't think they [teammates] noticed, but I definitely noticed,” McMahon said. “It didn't feel good. Obviously, I was happy I was hitting home runs but hitting them in wins definitely feels 100 times better.”
Blackmon doubled in two first-inning runs and singled in the fifth as he ended a career-worst five-game hitless streak. Garrett Hampson, who tied Friday’s victory over the Phillies with a seventh-inning homer, gave the Rockies a brief lead with a pinch-hit shot in the ninth. Starter Chi Chi González and a slew of relievers were mostly solid, and the homers picked up Daniel Bard, who blew the save when Brandon Crawford homered in the ninth.
But if, as manager Bud Black says, the Rockies are a group of low service-time players trying to find their way, McMahon -- in his third season as a regular -- is lighting the way. After struggling with strikeouts last season, McMahon is hitting .273 with the eight homers and 15 RBIs, and the selectivity he needs may be going from embryonic to hatchling. In the last three games, he has drawn three of his four walks. Patience can help him maintain and even improve his .895 OPS.
“I thought he had good at-bats last night as well, and drew a couple walks against the Phillies,” Black said. “The overall at-bats have been pretty good the last four or five days. We're seeing more aggressiveness early in the count. We're seeing him rip at some fastballs.
“It’s coming together for Mac. We've talked about this for a couple years, it takes time.”
McMahon has a simple goal -- to link together a chain of big performances in Rockies wins.